Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Sometimes the snapshots you (or I) fail to capture turn out to be more interesting than the ones that go off without a hitch, i.e. swimmingly. Or maybe that's the heat talking — hence the reference to swimming. Or maybe that's the rationalization I offered myself on Sunday night when it became all-too-clear, all-too-quickly, that I was ill-equipped and/or insufficiently knowledgeable to capture night-time images involving Fourth of July fireworks over Fort Adams and Narragansett Bay.

There's something pretty magical about being out there at the moment the lights go on — the lights on the Pell Bridge, that is, as well as the masthead lights and running lights on vessels all around as everyone waits, waits, waits in an expectant hush (despite idling engines) for the show to begin.

It was a perfect night for fireworks: no wind, no current — balmy, one could say, though there's a fine line between balmy and hot (now it's hot). I have no memory of specific fireworks (do we ever??), except there were some good ones, big ones, loud ones, even whistling ones. And it's all about the finale. I have images — lots — but, back to the original premise, I'm partial to the ones where my timing was off, as they freeze-frame a moment that wasn't intended to be preserved. Something meant to be missed (what a concept). I'm also partial to the ones where unexpected features glowed BRIGHT WHITE in the flash — like buoy #1 at the mouth of the harbor. And, later, that guy driving along America's Cup in his crazily patriotic car. I'd seen it/him around all weekend. I believe he dresses in a leotard and does a balancing act or some such thing involving a bizarre-looking contraption on the roof. When parked, of course. Though, at this particular instant, he was inching along in the post-fireworks traffic.

So as I stood there on the sidewalk with my lens aimed straight at this stranger behind the wheel of his red-and-white-striped vehicle emblazoned with all manner of glow-in-the-dark tape and stars-for-hubcaps and supportnonsense.com spelled out clearly along the roofline, he pulled out a camera, pointed it my way, and took a picture of ... wait, I guess the joke's on me.

If you click on the photo (above), you can see Mr. Nonsense within.

But nonsense (and fireworks and heat waves) aside, there's that other side to the Fourth of July ...